A few days ago, I was Pinteresting (I do this so much, I now have a verb for it), and I found a photo of teapot envelope art that I loved! Unfortunately, I cannot find the original source — the website that hosted it appears to be defunct — but you can see the pin here. I especially liked the idea of a tea tag collage. Tea tags can be really pretty, and they offer the recipient a peek into your your kitchen pantry! This can be oddly comforting if you are separated from a friend by many miles; or educational/interesting if you have an international pen pal to correspond with.
To create this envelope art, start by collecting 3-4 tea tags. Every time you go to have a cup of tea, remember to conserve the tag! Or, if you’re not a tea-drinker, ask a friend or family member to save tags for you.
Once your tea tag collection is complete, procure a relatively dark-colored envelope. It shouldn’t be an extremely dark color, like black, but it should be dark enough that white ink will show up on it. This is a “Lake” envelope from Paper Source; but as Paper Source does not appear to currently carry this color, “Peacock” would make for a great — if not better — substitute!
Next, follow the steps in the photos below (a verbal explanation will follow). I drew my teapot sketch using a white mechanical pencil, but you could just as easily use a standard lead pencil to create your drawing.
1. Draw a big circle on your envelope. It shouldn’t be exactly in the center of the envelope; instead, it should favor the right side. Be sure to make it closer to the bottom of the envelope than the top of the envelope so you’ll have room for stamps!
2. Add two curvy lines sprouting from the left of the circle; they should look like the lines in photo 2 above.
3. Draw an almond shape to join the two lines together. You now have a spout!
4. Draw a wide “U” shape at the top of the teapot, inside of the circle.
5. Add a lip to the “U”. To do this, draw two small, equal-sized vertical lines stemming up from either end of the “U” (where the “U” meets the circle). Then, draw another “U” line connecting the ends of the vertical lines that you just drew. This new “U” line should run parallel to the first one.
6. Erase the top of the teapot above the “U” lines. Replace the top with a protruding bump like the one shown, then draw two curved horizontal lines on either side of that bump to visually imply the teapot rim’s presence.
7. Draw a horizontal line with ends that slightly curve up in the middle of the bump. Then, draw a cylinder coming out of that horizontal line. The cylinder should get wider at the top.
8. Draw two squiggly lines coming out of the teapot’s spout to represent steam. Then, draw a few contour lines throughout the piece. You’ll notice that I added a contour line to the spout and the handle, then I added a line parallel to the base to form a bottom for the teapot.
Once you have drawn the sketch of the teapot, you can start painting around the teapot!
You can paint with watercolor if you want to, but I have been enjoying using McCaffery’s colored inks to paint with. McCaffery’s inks are supposed to be used for calligraphy (you can learn more about them in this blog post), yet when you paint with them, the results are lovely. It’s almost like you’re staining the paper rather than painting on it, and if you sprinkle salt in the wet ink, you’ll end up with a beautiful texture when the ink dries!
If you opt to sprinkle salt on the piece, make sure you wipe the salt off once the ink is completely dry. Check out the intriguing pattern that the salt crystals create!
Once the ink or watercolor paint is dry, use white drawing ink, white watercolor, or watered-down white calligraphy ink to add some color to the steam. Your goal is just to achieve a relatively transparent white color, which mimics the hue of real-life steam.
Next, use one of your tea tags as a template to create a tea tag shape from a piece of card stock.
Write your recipient’s name and address on the tag. Tea tags are pretty small, so you’ll probably need to use your regular print handwriting or a hand-lettering style like Sans Serif.
Glue your tea tags down on the teapot envelope art. Make sure you put the addressed tag in the front!
Now, use your dip pen and the white calligraphy ink of your choice (I’m using Dr. Ph. Martin’s Pen White) to draw over the lines you created with your pencil.
Don’t forget to add lines extending from the lid of the teapot to the tops of the tea tags to suggest that the tags are hanging by strings! You can use a regular black pen to add some shadows to the tags as well. Next, you can use any calligraphy style you like to add a return address in the steam. I used Bombay Ink in Turquoise and Kaitlin Style calligraphy to write out the return address pictured below.
If your envelope art has any protruding parts, be sure to add extra postage! My “Yogi” tea tag has a staple that sticks out a bit, so I made sure to add sufficient postage. If there are no staples or other parts that could give the postal machine some grief, you will be fine with a standard postage stamp!
I thought it would be nice to provide a short little tutorial to enjoy over the weekend, so I hope you like this envelope art and that you are inspired to create some! Next week, we’ll examine a few more calligraphy inks; and here in a couple of weeks, I will be releasing a video course over digitizing art and calligraphy! I know that there’s a lot of interest in that, so I’ve been working hard to make sure I come up with a course that will explain everything in a simple and effective way.
Thanks again, so much, for reading the TPK blog! Have a great weekend; you deserve it.